By Daniel Berhane,
A panel discussion – titled “Eritrea: Bridge building for a sustainable future” that was planned to be held at the House of Lords yesterday, the 18th of June 2015 – was cancelled after intense pressure from high quarters. The current strategy of vilifying Eritrea and silencing anyone who has anything positive to say or alternative voice to the dark story line of the UN human rights report, was practiced with no form of the usual pretence about democratic values.
Planned speakers included Professor Asmarom Legesse, renowned lawyer, sociologist and anthropologist, Todd Romaine, VP for CSR at Nevsun Resources, Lloyd Lipsett, an international human rights lawyer, and Seble Ephrem, a member of the Eritrean diaspora and Chairperson of the Eritrean Relief Association (UK).
Responding to question why the event was cancelled, Professor Asmarom Legesse said “Before we talk about why it was cancelled, I would ask myself whatever happened to the British traditions of free speech and freedom of assembly. It looks like all that has been suspended for this occasion.”
The event was not only cancelled once but three times in one day. Professor Asmarom Legesse, “We were unable to hold the meeting at the intended venue, the House of Lord, because the meeting was cancelled. Subsequently the meeting was rescheduled at another venue that was cancelled by another Lord. Another location was found and that was also cancelled.”
For the past several years, the United Kingdom political institutions, universities and influential think tanks and research institutes, have been the centre for hosting events addressing Eritrea’s political, diplomatic, and economic issues; where politically motivated studies, dressed as scientific production, had been used to tarnish Eritrea’s image and justify actions against Eritrea.
However, when studies and sharing real experiences from the ground, Eritrea, began to emerge, instead of welcoming the opportunity for discussion and scrutinise the ideas, the very elements who claim to advocate for democracy, react in a psychotic and desperate manner to stop the event.
The foot soldiers with Eritrean names, who claim credit on behalf of the higher quarters for the cancelation of the event, are pleased with themselves and are giving themselves a self-congratulatory round of applause. This is clearly a great indication of desperation and hopelessness, however, on closer look they may, indeed, have something to congratulate themselves for.
This becomes obvious when you listen to Professor Asmarom delivering a very articulate and substantive talk that could inform and win over anyone who has been poisoned by the current misinformation and the false image that has been wildly and continuously disseminated about Eritrea.
The bad news for these elements is, Professor Asmarom Legesse did eventually have a very fruitful and engaging meeting with the Eritrean masses who gathered in very short notice. Professor Asmarom explained the current situation and in particular the report by the UN commission report that he described as “incredibly shallow study” and outlined its wrong methodology and content.
Professor Asmarom said it was a self-fulfilling prophecy from the very beginning. Recalling a meeting with Ms. Sheila B. Keetharuth in New York, where 20 to 25 educated Eritreans, academics, and scholars were present, Professor Asmarom, said “We asked her what was the purpose of her study. Essentially, although she didn’t quite use those words, it was to find evidence of human rights violations in Eritrea. That is not a question, that is an article of faith. If you pronounce your article of faith in that fashion, it is quite clear that you will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will find whatever you are looking for. We insisted then she should be open-minded and look at the best and worst Eritrea has to offer.”
Professor Asmarom went on to highlight the fact the report was one-sided and that anyone who has anything positive to say was ignored and silenced.
When asked to give advice for the Eritrean living abroad, Professor Asmarom said, “whatever you do, whatever criticism, you want label at Eritrea, do so with full understanding of what damage it may do to the country as a nation.”
Naming embargoes and sanctions that have been imposed on Eritrea, as example, Professor Asmarom said, “If you welcome that you are obviously interested in destroying Eritrea.” The intention of the sanction was “to weaken Eritrea, to weaken its capacity to defend itself. It is to allow Ethiopia to do whatever they wish.”
Professor Asmarom covered several topics on the interactive engagement and the full content will be published. Following the event, Professor Asmarom spent time with members of the Eritrean community throughout the evening discussing culture, history and other topics.
It was a very mesmerising, enriching evening and a moment to appreciate one of the many and unique assets of Eritrea – very humble, and cultured intellectual, Professor Asmarom. Despite the attempt to stop him from fulfilling his patriotic duty, Professor Asmarom, throughout his stay will no doubt engage with many important officials and institutions.
Seble Ephrem also engaged with everyone particularly the youth creating a better awareness about the challenges and the need for better coordination to effectively confront the hostility our community and country are facing.
Finally, the question comes what are enemies of Eritrea scared of? The outline of the event is described as “Eritrea is a young nation and in the midst of rebuilding itself from the ashes of the long struggle and reliant on its people and emerging natural resources to build a sustainable and prosperous future for itself.” And that the panellists would have addressed “their experiences of living and working in Eritrea and the changing narrative in regard to constructive engagement with Eritrea and for a sustainable future in the region.”
This only goes to confirm the truth and facts are behind Eritrea, whereas those individuals and entities that are trying to undermine Eritrea’s national interest have none. Hence their action can be justified on ground as “If you can’t beat them, silence them.”